The 3 Little Dassies

Title: The 3 Little Dassies


Author: Jan Brett

Illustrator/Photographer: Jan Brett

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2010

Number of pages: 30 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Fiction, Animals, 2-3

Genre: Fiction


This story is a spin off from the three little pigs. Instead, the main characters are three dassies who live in Namibia. A dassie is a Southern African badger. The three dassies are named, Mimbi, Pimpi, and Timbi set out to find a new home and have to build their own houses to protect them from the eagles who prey on them. This story can serve as a door because it was written for readers to take away the message of “hard work pays off.” The reason the readers would take away this message is because the first two dassies took a short time to build their houses so they could nap. The last dassie worked all day in the hot sun to make her house. Children can relate to this and apply it to taking time in completing their work or drawing a picture. The author depicted the culture of Namibia in Africa through the borders of the story. She includes beautiful African prints in them. The use of her borders helps the audience to look into the story and get a glimpse of the characters world. The book is also set in Africa, where her and her husband camped out at and that is what inspired her to write this book. The book also shows the different animals that inhabit there. I think Jan Brett illustrates Namibia very well and uses colors, setting and boarders to support that. Jan always includes panels on the right and the left of the page to help foreshadow for the oncoming events. Finally, her use of bright colors is showing the dassies new found freedom as they set out to look for a new home.


Masai and I

Title: Masai and I


Author: Virginia Kroll

Illustrator/Photographer: Nancy Carpenter

Publisher and Year: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992

Number of pages: 27 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Culture, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, Picture Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl named Linda who learns about East African culture at school. The culture she learns about are proud, tall people called the Masai. When she goes home, she then compared her life to that of a Masai and talks about how different her life would be if she were to be a part of their culture.

This text could function as a window for some students because it allows the readers to learn about a new culture. The book does an excellent job of showing the comparison of life here in the United States and the life of the Masaian people. It shows just how different the two cultures are and yet how they are the same. Throughout the book it talks about the different ways the Masaian culture may complete a task and then goes on to explain how Linda and her family may complete it as well. For example, Linda talks about how her little brother goes to the faucet to get water but if they were living in East Africa her brother would have to walk long distances to a water hole and bring back the water in a giant gourd. In doing this, the writer does a good job about representing the comparison of different cultures.

Through out this book the illustrations seem to have thin lines to represent speed and movement to show Linda moving through time. In one of the images in the book it shows Linda looking out the window as she thinks about how different life would be if she lived in East Africa. This shows progression or growth of the character. It shows that Linda is enhancing her knowledge about this culture and growing as she learns these new things. It also shows how they do things and how different it is compared to Linda’s culture in the United States.



Title: Jumanji


Author: Chris Van Allsburg

Illustrator/Photographer: Chirs Van Allsburg

Publisher and Year: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981

Number of pages: 28 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Award Winner, Fiction

Genre: Ficiton


This book is about a little girl named Judy and a little boy named Peter, who find an abandoned board game at the park and decide to play it while their parents are out. As they play, the game comes to life. Whatever happened in the game happens in real life. This book has also won the Caldecott Award.

This book functions as a window for the readers to look into. Readers are able to look into a fantasy scenario of a game that comes to life when someone play it. This book is intended to serve as a warning to children to listen to their parents. At the end, one of the guests talks about how her sons never like to follow to directions. The reader can see that the boys stole the game board in the illustration on the next page. This serves as foreshadowing that the boys are going to end up playing the game because the do not listen or follow direction in real life and when it comes to playing with games and toys. I think that the Illustrator didn’t represent any culture or multicultural aspects in this book. Both the boy and the girl are white and so are the other characters in the book.

The illustrations in the book are all in black and white and are all framed. This allows for the readers to look in on the story, rather than to be a part of it. The underlying ideology in this book is to listen to directions or else something like this could happen to you. It serves as a pre-cautionary tale for younger kids.


Ruler of the Courtyard

Title: Ruler of the Courtyard


Author: Rukhsana Khan

Illustrator/Photographer: R. Gregory Christie

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2003

Number of pages: 32 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Realistic Fiction, 2-3

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little girl who is very afraid of the chickens in her courtyard. He has to run to the bathhouse in order to not have the chickens notice. While in the bathhouse she noticed a snake and she must overcome her fears and capture the snake so it won’t bike her or her Nani (Grandmother). She then realizes it not a snake, it is a nala, which is a rope that is used to tie up her Nani’s pants. She realizes that there is nothing to be afraid of after all and is no longer afraid of the chickens.

This text can serve as a window to look into another culture. The culture that is represented in this book’s setting is in Pakistan and can show the readers how the culture there may differ from theirs. The words in the book also use some that are native to Pakistan. Students may also be able to relate to this book because some may share this culture as well or if they are familiar with it because they have visited there or they have family who are Pakistani. I would recommend this book because the author is a Pakistani Canadian writer who has experienced life in Pakistan because she was born and raised there allowing her to accurately depict the culture.

This book uses very bright and vivid colors to show the emotion throughout the book. Throughout the book it shows a horizon and then the horizon disappears at one point. This is used to signify the on coming danger the main character is about to face when she encounters the snake. The illustrator also uses think lines to show the intensity of the emotions the main character is feeling when she sees the chickens and when she tries to capture the snake.


The Hello, Goodbye Window

Title: The Hello, Goodbye Window


Author: Norton Juster

Illustrator/Photographer: Chris Raschka

Publisher and Year: Michael Di Capua Books, 2005

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Award Winner, Realistic Fiction

Genre: Realistic Fiction


A little girl has a special window at her Nanna and Poppy’s house. At this window all the special things happen, like, making funny faces to have a T-Rex visit! This story is told from the little girl’s perspective. It is also a winner of the Caldecott Award.

This text can function as a mirror to some readers. They may be able to connect to the story because it could remind them of the time that they visited their grandparents or all the different things that they do when they go to a relative’s house. The illustrator depicts a multicultural family in this book, which I think can benefit the readers because some may come from a biracial family as well and it can help them connect on a deeper level. Since the text is from the littler girl’s point of view it is helpful to read this to a younger age group because it talks about how it is okay to feel different emotions at the same time. For example, she is happy to go home because she missed being with her parents, but she is sad too because she doesn’t want to leave her Nanna and Poppy. I think this is a good thing to share with younger children because they could be going through major life changes and may not understand how to cope with some of the emotions they may be feeling.

The illustrations have a lot of thick lines to show the intensity of the emotions the little girl has for her Nanna and Poppy. She is always saying wonderful things about them and the lines help support that. The little girl is usually placed at the bottom of the page compared to her grandparents, who are usually at the top of the page. This is showing that the grandparents have a higher power than she does and it also shows that the grandparents should be seen as an authoritative figure. Throughout this book it is mentioned about some of the things she can and can’t do. I think the ideology that is presented in this book is to make sure children follow their guardian’s rules.


Ballerino Nate

Title: Ballerino Nate


Author: Kimberly Brubaker

Illustrator/Photographer: R.W. Alley

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group,3006

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Realistic Fiction

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little dog named Nate who wants to become a ballerina. However, his brother Ben is always there to remind Nate that only girls are ballerinas and boys can’t dance. In the end, Nate’s mom brings him to a dance and in the performance there are men dancing. This shows Nate that anyone can become a dancer. I think that this book could serve as a mirror even though its characters are animals.

I think the readers could relate it to a time they wanted to become something that was stereotypically seen to be something “girls” and “boys” only do. It is a good book to show students that they can do anything and be anything they want to be and don’t let anyone stand in the way of that. There really is no culture represented in this book but it does a good job of teaching students that things aren’t just for boys and things aren’t just for girls.

Throughout this book the ideology presented in the story is to show the readers not to judge others based on the social norm. As long as they are happy doing what they love, no one should look down on them. The books illustrations are all made up of bright colors to show the freedom that Nate has to become anyone he wants to. The illustrations also have a lot of jagged lines to show the troubled emotions that Nate is feeling. The troubled emotions come from Nate in thinking that he will have to wear pink and that he cannot become a ballerina because he is a boy.


Saint George and the Dragon

Title: Saint George and the Dragon


Retold By: Margaret Hodges

Illustrator/Photographer: Trina Schart Hyman

Publisher and Year: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1984

Number of pages: 32 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Picture Book, Fantasy, 4-5, Award Winner

Genre: Fantasy


This book is about the Red Cross Knight that is sent on an adventure by the Queen of the fairies to slay a dragon that has been terrorizing the land. The knight ends up slaying this dragon and in doing so, it brings peace back to the people of this land. This book is also a Caldecott winner.

I feel that this text would serve as a window because the reader is looking into a fantasy world where there are dragons and fairies. This story does not depict race other than White characters in the story. There is also no other culture shown in this story. I feel that the story should have included other cultures and races so students maybe able to connect to the story in some way. The way they may be able to connect to it in the fact that they might have listened to this story when they were growing up or they could remember it from reading it as a child.

The illustrations throughout the entire book have a frame around the images and the text. The author did this to show that the readers are looking in on the story and not experiencing the story first hand. In the beginning of the book dark colors are used to show the people and the land are not happy and are upset because they are being terrorized by this dragon. As the story goes on the colors seem to get lighter and lighter until the end of the story where the colors are bright and vivid to show that the dragon being slayed has made the people of the land very hopeful and happy.


Yo! Yes?

Title: Yo! Yes?


Author: Chris Raschka

Illustrator/Photographer: Chris Raschka

Publisher and Year: Orchard Books, 1993

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Culture, Fiction, K-1, Picture Book, Award Winner

Genre: Fiction


This book is about two boys who meet each other as they are walking down a street one-day. One says, “Yo!” to the other and this sparks the friendship between the two. This book also is a Caldecott Honor Book.

This text could serve as a mirror because students could relate to this in some way by connecting their own life experiences to it. It may remind them of a time they went on a walk or may remind them of a time that they made a new friend. This book also shows two different cultures in this book. One boy is White and the other is African American. However, I do see a stereotypical aspect to the book when I looked deeper into the illustrations. When depicting the African American boy. His attire seems to be more comfortable and not as formal, including sneakers and more of a “hip-hop” style. For the White boy, he is dressed in a nice button up shirt with a suit coat over it and very nice pants. I think that the illustrator could have both of the boys in t-shirts and sneakers, rather than one dress up and the other in more laid back attire.

There are no frames in this book so as the reader, we can be involved in this on a more personal level and be a part of this story as well. It also starts out using a dark blue colored background to show the emotion of the boy who has no friends and is very sad and lonely. As the story goes on it goes to a light pink color, then to a yellow background. This shows the progression of the character’s emotions turning from sad to happy.


Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad

Title: Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad

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Author: Pamela Duncan Edwards

Illustrator/Photographer: Henry Cole

Publisher and Year: HarperCollins Publishers in 1997

Number of pages: 28 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, 4-5, Culture, Picture Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about the path a runaway slave takes. It is from the perspective of the person’s foot and all the creatures it encounters along the way. The animals in the story help lead the foot to a safe house where the boy will stay.

This text functions as a window for its audience. The text is intended to let the reader in on what the barefoot has to go through in order to be safe. It helps the audience get a look into what it was like during an escape from a slave owner. With this book being aimed more towards younger readers, the audience has never experienced what it was like to escape and travel on the Underground Railroad. The only thing that I found interesting was that the writer and the illustrator are both Caucasian. I think they did a good job at creating the story however I feel that it may be more accurate if the writer was someone who experienced it or knew someone experienced it. However, the illustrator did an excellent job of making all the picture dark, mysterious, and having no frame giving the audience the feeling as if they were there with the main character. When looking more closely at the images, you can see whenever they show the slave owners walking through the woods looking for the boy, you can notice a horizon. The significance of this is to signify the on coming danger.


Last Stop on Market Street

Title: Last Stop on Market Street


Author: Matt de la Pena

Illustrator/Photographer: Christian Robinson

Publisher and Year: The Penguin Group in 2015

Number of pages: 29 pgs

Tags: Olivia Simkins, Realistic Fiction, 2-3, 4-5, Culture, Picture Book, Family, Award Book

Genre: Realistic Fiction


This book is about a little boy named CJ who is taking a trip to the soup kitchen with his Nana. Along the way CJ questions his Nana about why they are walking in the rain, why they have to ride the bus and why he does not have an iPod. He learns along the way to enjoy the things he has. This book has won the Coretta Scott King Award and the Newberry Award and is a Caldecott Honor book as well.

This story could serve as a door, and a mirror. The readers can view it as a mirror because they connect to a part in the novel. They might be able to connect about the time they rode on the bus or the time they volunteered at a soup kitchen or some place else. It can also serve as a door to inspire the readers to help at their local soup kitchen or volunteer in their community. I also feel like the illustrator wanted to represent all the different cultures in the story but I found out some underlying ideological features in this book. I feel that there is stereotypes represented when CJ is asking his Nana about not having a car. His friend who has a car is Caucasian and CJ is African American. This could be problematic for some readers because it could make them feel like this book is presenting racist stereotypes.

After analyzing the perceptual features of this book, I have noticed the use of colors. In the beginning of the book CJ talks about walking out of church and how he felt free. The use of colors in this book supports that statement as well. The colors are all very bright, and when looking into what bright color represent, it states that they represent freedom.